The Divine Feminine [Slipcase] [Parental Advisory]
Personnel: Ariana Grande, Kilo Kish, Chloe Clancy, Paige Montgomery (vocals).
Recording information: Blast Off Productions, New York, NY; East West Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA; Encore Recording Studios, Burbank, CA; Germano Studios, New York, NY; Jungle City Studios, New York, NY; Nightbird Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Premier Studios, New York, NY.
As a way to illustrate the sincerity implied in its title, The Divine Feminine begins and ends with the voices of women. Ariana Grande introduces Mac Miller's first Warner Bros. release, and in its conclusion, Miller's grandmother details with fondness the history of her relationship with her husband. In between the two tracks, to the point of compulsion, Miller frequently notes his aptitude in the bedroom and his insatiable appetite therein, or wherever else the mood strikes. Crass as it frequently is, the bulk of the album nonetheless has more to do with loving relationships than most releases from the manchild R&B classes of 2011-2016. Miller even sings a higher percentage of his words in his limited and sincere drawl, rhapsodizing "You just don't know how beautiful you are" on "My Favorite Part," a clean duet with new flame Grande that sounds like it could be an Anthony Hamilton cover. Miller's producers are in accordance with all the lovestruck sentiments. They outfit the songs with twirling strings, punching horns, and lively pianos, the last of which is provided by Robert Glasper on the woozy, Kendrick Lamar-assisted "God Is Fair, Sexy, Nasty." In the dazed but laser-focused ballad "Skin," there's a recurring impassioned saxophone line, and at one point it punctuates Miller's purr of "I open up your legs and go straight for your heart." The album's first half is highlighted by another Anderson Paak collaboration, "Dang!," a sharp hybrid of horn-flecked funk and spangly house. It's surpassed during the second half by the combination of "Soulmate," a sticky/slippery Dm-Funk production, and "We," a beatific mellow groove elevated by the harmonious voices of CeeLo Green and Thundercat. At all times, Miller and his associates are on the same page. Another aspect that makes this the rapper's most fulfilling album is that all the lines about being saved and in awe seem to be expressed with as much ease as the anatomical references, like they're plain facts, not wrenching confessions. ~ Andy Kellman
Rolling Stone - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[H]e charmingly fits low-key bedroom patter over trumpet-driven Chance the Rapper-style jazziness on 'Stay,' and rides alongside Anderson .Paak over the chilled-out house groove of 'Dang!'"